Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Rabies in Dogs

What are some signs your dog has rabies? Can this disease be treated? These are common questions you might have about rabies. In this post, our Mandeville vets list signs and symptoms of rabies in dogs and how you can prevent your four-legged friend from contracting this serious illness.

How can a dog get rabies?

Rabies is a serious, often fatal virus that any mammal (pet, wildlife, or human) can contract via an infected animal's saliva. This is why bites – and sometimes scratches – from wildlife and other animals should be taken very seriously and examined by a vet if they happen to your pooch.

How to Know if Your Dog Has Rabies

People frequently ask our Mandeville vets, "What are the signs of rabies in a dog?"

The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system, and eventually infects the brain. Some symptoms include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or drinking
  • Overreacting to touch, sound, or light
  • Staggering or failing, with eventual paralysis
  • Licking or biting the wound site where exposure occurred

Rabies is almost always fatal. Once symptoms of rabies appear, the animal will typically die within 7 to 10 days. If a wild animal bites your dog, your vet may administer a rabies vaccination booster to reduce the risk of your dog contracting the virus. If your dog has been infected, you'll need to quarantine them from the rest of the household (including humans and other pets) while you contact your vet.

Once symptoms appear, there is no way to treat rabies in dogs. Unfortunately, if your veterinarian suspects rabies, your dog may be euthanized to prevent the virus from spreading.

What is the incubation period of rabies?

The incubation period is the time between the moment your dog was exposed to the virus and when symptoms of the disease begin to appear.

In most cases, your dog will display signs of the virus within two weeks after being exposed. However, it may also take months for symptoms to appear. This is why it's imperative to have your dog vaccinated and to carefully follow any advice provided by your local public health unit if you suspect your dog has been exposed.

If your pet does have a rabies, the virus can be transmitted to other pets and humans 10 days before your dog starts to show any signs of the disease.

Can my dog still contract rabies after being vaccinated? 

Unfortunately, like most vaccines, the rabies vaccine is not 100% effective. That said, the vaccine does provide substantial protection for your dog against the virus. It is important to prevent your pets from contract this virus in the first place; prevention is the key defense against disease in dogs.

It's safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it, as the rabies virus is fairly common. 

Can a vaccinated dog transmit rabies?

While it's unlikely that a vaccinated dog will transmit rabies, it is still possible. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog that's been bitten must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog for cat was infectious at the time of the bite, symptoms of the virus will appear within an animal within 10 days. 

Can I vaccinate my own dog for rabies?

If you were to choose to vaccinate your own animal for rabies, state public health and law enforcement officials will not recognize your vaccination as valid. You and the animal will be treated as if no rabies vaccine was administered. 

By proving that your dog has had the rabies vaccine, you can confirm that there's no threat of rabies being transmitted. That said, if your dog's vaccinations aren't up to date, they may be quarantined or even euthanized due to the potential threat. Dogs that have bitten people need to be confined for at least 10 days to see if rabies develops. 

How to Test a Dog for Rabies 

Rabies can't be easily diagnosed with a blood test. A 100% accurate test requires a biopsy of the brain tissue to be taken, so it can't be done before the animal has died. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

To schedule a rabies vaccination for your dog, contact our Mandeville vets today. 

New Patients Welcome

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

Contact Us

(985) 626-7297